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responsibilities, Wheaton family law attorneyOne of the most challenging aspects of being a divorced or unmarried parent is the idea of sharing parental duties with your former partner. Each person often has an idea of how a should be raised, and these ideas may vary—even when both parents are reasonable and have good intentions. Conflicting parenting ideas can lead to confusion and uncertainty on the part of the child, so it is important for parents to cooperate in creating a parenting plan that lays out each parent’s role in regard to making significant decisions that affect the child.

Defining Significant Decisions

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), significant decisions include those related to “issues of long-term importance in the life of the child.” The IMDMA offers several examples of concerns that are considered to be significant decisions, including:


guardian ad litem, Wheaton family law attorneyWhen parents cannot agree on how to divide parental responsibilities, including decision-making authority and parenting time, the court is forced to make decisions for them. In doing so, the court will hear arguments and proposals from both parents, but with the understanding that it is nearly impossible for most parents to objectively consider the best interests of their children. Sometimes, the court may even suspect that it is not getting the full story from one or both parents. When this is the case, Illinois law allows a judge to appoint an independent attorney to serve as guardian ad litem (GAL) for the duration of the proceedings.

What Is a GAL?

A guardian ad litem is a licensed attorney who meets certain experience requirements and who has undergone select training related to resolving family law disputes. Each county maintains a list of qualified GALs who may be appointed in a given case. Either party in the case may ask for a GAL to be appointed or the court may make the appointment on its own.


parallel, Wheaton family law attorneySometimes a couple with children divorces and they continue interacting almost as if the divorce never happened. They still chat about their lives together when picking up or dropping off the children and can easily communicate about changes in parenting time schedules or concerns regarding the children.

Other couples are much more antagonistic toward each other during and after a divorce. They struggle to communicate at all without fighting and are not willing to cooperate with each other. This often happens when a marriage ends due to adultery or another significant breach of trust. Mental health issues like narcissistic personality disorder can also make it nearly impossible for parents to communicate effectively. In circumstances like these, a method of shared parenting called parallel parenting may be the best option for raising happy, successful children.

Features of Parallel Parenting


Posted on in Child Custody

parenting agreement, Wheaton divorce attorneysIf you are a parent who is planning to divorce your spouse, it is likely that one of your biggest concerns is how the divorce will affect your children. The transition from nuclear family to sharing children between two homes can be challenging and no two co-parenting arrangements are the same. Parents who plan to share custody of their children after a divorce will be expected to create a parenting plan or parenting agreement and submit it to the court. A parenting plan is not only required for divorce involving children in Illinois, but is also a great way to make sure parents are on the same page regarding how they will raise children after the divorce is finalized.

Things to Consider When Making a Parenting Plan

Because every family is different, every parenting plan is different. Some divorcing couples feel that they can roughly outline a custody and visitation schedule and plan little else while others go into much more detail about how their children should be raised. If you worry that you and your spouse will have trouble agreeing to parenting decisions in the future, it is best to be very specific in your parenting agreement. Take the time to prevent problems before they arise by making sure you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse are in agreement about parenting responsibilities.


Posted on in Child Custody

military, Wheaton family law attorneyMembers of the United States Armed Forces are well trained to expect the unexpected at all points in their careers. However, sometimes the unexpected can affect not only them, but also their spouses and children. Receiving new orders sometimes happens very abruptly, with a minimum of time to make arrangements before shipping out. If you have custody of your children, you may have to act fast to avoid running into trouble.

Your Right to Speak Is Protected

Some spouses will try to file for a parental responsibilities hearing during a deployment or while you are awaiting orders, thinking that with your life in flux, you will be in no position to challenge their wishes. However, in 1940, Congress passed a law now known as the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA), and SCRA grants an automatic stay of any civil proceedings, usually lasting 90 days, but a judge may extend the stay if they believe that it is in the best interests of the child to do so. The rationale is simple: a soldier, especially a soldier deployed on active duty, is almost never in a position to respond appropriately to such an important document as a custody pleading.


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